OSKALOOSA — The Atchison County Community High School boys came to Oskaloosa to start the regular season hungry for a win, but they had to claw it out against a motivated squad of Bears. Now, they’ve done it.
Senior Trystin Myers recorded a remarkable first half performance in the 47-41 victory, showing indomitable thirst for the ball and feeding the hoop again and again on fast break layups following Bear turnovers that were no matter of casual errors by the home team, recording 18 points overall.
The offensive opportunities the Tigers enjoyed had to be generated and exploited to account for what new Head Coach Troy Hoffman characterized as a game with some rough edges for the team. Scrambles for the ball in the air and on the ground were a frequent event. But a win is a win, and oh does this win feel good after a 2018 season without a single victory.
“I’m just so happy for the boys, because it’s been a long time since a win has come, and you know what? To come out on the first night and get a win, I’m happy either way,” Hoffman said. “We overcome adversity. We missed more free throws than I can count on my hands and my feet. But they still hung tough in the end and showed a lot of character.”
The game proved to be one of difficulties with ball control by both sides, with the Tigers’ superior ability to exploit turnovers proving to be the deciding factor in the first three quarters as opposed to rebounds or shooting, although the Tigers did open things up with an impressive seven-point run in the first quarter. The Bears fell victim to a steal and fast break layup by Smith late in the second quarter to set up a score of 28-21 at the half. The Tigers would go on to maintain a lead of something like 5 points through most of the game.
Determined not to let the home crowd down in the season opener, the Bears stepped up the defensive pressure in the fourth, blocking a shot by senior Marcus Hetherington in the third minute of play and running it back for a layup attempt that the Tigers got in front of and fouled, containing the damage to one point, leaving the score narrowed to 37-41. Hoffman, eyeing the Tigers’ nerves on the precipice of a much-needed win, calmly urged his players to remain focused through the waning minutes.
Atchison County continues after this first game and first win since the 2017 season to Hiawatha, where they will play their only game of the regular season against the Red Hawks. Events are scheduled for 5 p.m. to 10 p.m; the boys varsity squad should begin play at around 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7.
“It means a lot, and it feels really good,” Myers said. “Because, after a winless season, we have achieved something with a new coach and a new program. We’ve adapted to it. We’ve come out and played strong in the first game of the season. It’s really important. I know we can keep this success rolling.”